Here’s a thought: Maybe we wouldn’t be so polarized here in America if we stopped making massively polarizing statements.

Overstatements and gaslighting have continually derailed debate and progress for our country. We’ve recently opined in this space about the ongoing plight of school boards in the wake of mask mandates. We argued that frustrated parents are barking up the wrong tree, and we maintain that argument as the debate continues.

So, one would think we would have agreed with the National School Boards Association when it took those arguing with school boards to task while also seeking assistance from the federal government. But, as is the case in so many situations here in America, emphasis was put on the exception and not the rule. And in another typical refrain, an extreme statement was made that forced out the possibility of middle ground.

In its letter, the association, which represents more than 90,000 school board members in 14,000 public school districts, documented more than 20 instances of threats, harassment, disruption, and acts of intimidation in several states. So that’s .02% of school board members or .14% of districts. We are clearly talking about the exception and not the rule.

But the association honed in the exception, saying the following: “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

As we firmly believe words are important — obviously — let’s grab a dictionary and break that down, shall we?

We’ll start with heinous. Merriam-Webster describes it as “hatefully or shockingly evil.” Furthermore, evil is described as “profoundly immoral and wicked.” Has this matter truly reached those levels or are we possibly looking at yet another overstatement for political gain?

Now for domestic terrorism. Terrorism comes in at “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”

And then there’s hate crimes. We won’t even bother with a definition here as it’s clearly a misuse of the term on any and all fronts.

Again, words are important. That’s something we think the National School Boards Association — as well as every citizen, government official, business and organization — should keep in mind as America moves to solve the problems it is currently facing.

We wholeheartedly agree that any threat made against a public official should be dealt with swiftly and sternly. But, yet again, here we are, forced to discuss something other than the base problem because of politicking by those involved. If America is going to heal and move forward, this type of rhetoric of taking it to the extreme must stop.